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Published on Apr 16, 2013

by: Stephen Oney, Chris Harrison, Amy Ogan, Jason Wiese

The proliferation of touchscreen devices has made soft keyboards a routine part of life. However, ultra-small computing platforms like the Sony SmartWatch and Apple iPod Nano lack a means of text entry. This limits their potential, despite the fact they are capable computers. In this work, we present a soft keyboard interaction technique called ZoomBoard that enables text entry on ultra-small devices. Our approach uses iterative zooming to enlarge otherwise impossibly tiny keys to comfortable size. We based our design on a QWERTY layout, so that it is immediately familiar to users and leverages existing skill. As the ultimate test, we ran a text entry experiment on a keyboard measuring just 16 x 6mm -- smaller than a US penny. After eight practice trials, users achieved an average of 9.3 words per minute, with accuracy comparable to a full-sized physical keyboard. This compares favorably to existing mobile text input methods.

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